A former NFL player’s journey from prison to owning a barbershop in eastern Idaho
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IDAHO FALLS — A new barber in Idaho Falls specializes in ethnic hairstyles, and he has quite a story for his new clientele.
Boise barber Marques McFadden recently opened MAC Barbershop in partnership with Playas Barbershop at 1633 South Woodruff Avenue. He is sharing the 450-square-foot space with the established barbershop until he builds up his clientele and can find a more permanent location. So far, response to his new local operation has been very positive.
“The response has been really good. I’ve got quite a few clients coming in, despite me only being in the area for three weeks. I’m starting to get booked up,” McFadden tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Though his shop is open to anyone, McFadden says he specializes in ethnic hair — meaning some of his services cater to people who are black or Hispanic.
“Most black people have coarse hair,” McFadden says. “Men and women who come from a mixed-race … have a looser curl. Sometimes it’s difficult to cut that type of hair.”
In addition to haircuts, the business offers straight-razor shaves, facials, manicures and pedicures, hair unit applications and eyelash extensions. McFadden also offers hair conditioning treatments and beard oils.
McFadden says there is an even mix of black, white and Hispanic customers who frequent the shop and there’s a huge demand among eastern Idaho’s black population for the services he provides, which is what prompted him to open a shop in Idaho Falls.
“Those women who get braids, dreads, cornrows, weaves, box braids and things of that nature — they need that service and it’s not (available) unless they go to Salt Lake or Boise,” he says.
McFadden opened MAC Barbershop in Boise four years ago. He got his start cutting hair professionally about 11 years ago, but his experience began at home when he was a 9-year-old kid.
“I grew up in Meridian. We didn’t have any black barbers or barbershops of ethnic descent to go to, so we used to cut each other’s hair,” he says. “I started cutting people’s hair in the basement of my house.”
But working as a barber isn’t what McFadden originally set out to do. As a high school student standing at 6 foot 5 and weighing 320 pounds, McFadden had the build of an athlete and he wanted to play football. That’s exactly what he did.
A journey of redemption
McFadden’s football career began in high school with the Capital High Golden Eagles. He received second-team all-state and all-conference honors as a senior, according to his Wikipedia page, and won a scholarship to the University of Arizona. He later went on to play for the NFL.
“I was drafted as a free agent with the Green Bay Packers. I made the practice squad with the Atlanta Falcons and got on the active roster with the Dallas Cowboys and played (as an offensive lineman),” he says. “I got injured the week before Emmett Smith broke Walter Payton’s rushing record.”
(Smith broke the record in 2002 with an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter of the game against the Seattle Seahawks.)
McFadden tore his labrum, which is a piece of cartilage attached to the shoulder socket that helps keep the ball of the joint in place. The injury prevented him from playing so he took some time off to let it heal.
He returned the following season.
“My shoulder just wasn’t healthy enough. I just wasn’t performing at the level I could perform when I am healthy,” says McFadden.
He left after the first preseason game with the Cowboys and trained with the New England Patriots for a week. He finished his professional football career in Canada after a season with the BC Lions.
Over the next several years, McFadden says his life took a downward spiral because of poor life choices. He moved to Utah and started smoking weed. He got involved in selling drugs and ended up in Utah State Prison.
During his two and a half year sentence, McFadden says he did some serious soul searching and decided to “give his life to the Lord.”
“When I was 17 or 18, I got baptized but … I didn’t really know what that meant,” he says. “When I was doing time, God had my undivided attention. I started asking questions and got lots of answers. When I got out, it was a seven-year process (to get my life back in order).”
It’s been a long and difficult journey for McFadden and he says he still has a long way to go, but he’s grateful for the lessons he’s learned.
“God’s put a lot of people in my life to help me get this way,” he says.
He credits his mentor, Shari Baber, (who owns a beauty salon in Boise) for helping him get established after graduating from barber school.
“She’s been doing hair for over 30 years,” McFadden says. “After I got out of barber college, I worked for a few other shops but she came to me and told me she needed a barber in her shop.”
McFadden recalls passing out business cards to people on the street when he was getting started. Baber often referred customers to him, he says, and provided helpful career advice.
His Boise location is located right next to her salon.
“If you’ve fallen, you can rise again and be redeemed,” McFadden says of his journey and the success of his business.
McFadden says owning a barbershop is what God wants him to be doing right now.
Though he’s currently back and forth between Boise and Idaho Falls, he says he’d eventually like to call Idaho Falls home. He invites you to stop by his barbershop and give it a try.
“I hope people will come in with an open heart and open mind,” McFadden says. “When I’m there … the mood for the clients is from the heart.”
MAC Barbershop is open Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.